I know it’s only Wednesday, but this puzzle features a trick more commonly seen on Thursdays: the dreaded rebus! This is a mechanism that requires the solver to enter more than one letter into some of the squares.
The best way to recognize a rebus is if you are certain you know what the answer should be to a particular clue, but you just don’t have enough spaces to enter it. For me, the clue that gave it away was 32D: “Hummus brand.” Now, I love hummus, and I knew that the only name-brand hummus that is widely known enough to make it into The New York Times Crossword had to be SABRA: But 32D has only four squares. Recognizing that I might be dealing with a rebus, I looked at the central spanner (“Legendary Himalayan humanoid”) and, based on a few crossings I already had, inferred that it might be ABOMINABLE SNOWMAN. SABRA crossing ABOMINABLE SNOWMAN? It must be an AB scrap!
Seven other squares in the puzzle contain these same two letters, and, like ABOMINABLE SNOWMAN, all of the theme Across entries that contain a scrap actually contain two:GRABBED ABITE, INHABITABTHE, and ABRA CADABAR.
I assumed while I was solving that the theme would have something to do with a six-pack of ABs, but in fact the count comes to eight scrap squares. Mr. Goudsmit’s clever revealer at 61A (“Core exercises … or a hint to eight squares in this puzzle”) explains that the solver is doing AB CRUNCHES — crunching two letters into just one square. Neat!
Hello, New York Times Crossworld! My name’s Jared. I’m a writer, a proud St. Louisan, and (as of May) a Tulane alum with majors in theater and political science. I made most of this puzzle backstage during last year’s spring show. (I hit my cues, I promise!)
This is a fairly new passion for me. Cracking Jim Peredo’s January 2020 New York Times crossword hooked me in as a newbie solver and sparked my interest in making a puzzle of my own. I thank him for taking the time to keep his ambitious grid clean. Any time I’m tempted to slack off in the fill today, I remind myself of the thrill I felt finishing his puzzle then.
I’m proud of my cleanliness under the rebus constraints, but I wish I’d been able to squeeze in stronger entries (pun intended). INH(AB)IT(AB)LE gave me the symmetry I needed, but it’s no SANT(AB)(AB)Y.
Shout-outs to Phil (the perfect “gateway drug” website for aspiring constructors) and XWord Info (an indispensable resource for me every step of the way). And thank you for checking out my eight-pack!
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